White House Threatens To Veto Bill Attempting To Gut Net Neutrality, Defang FCC

from the sing-for-your-supper dept

As we just noted, the House has been pushing yet another bill that attempts to punish the FCC for its uncharacteristic new habit of actually standing up to giant ISPs. The "No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act" (pdf) professes to be a bill focused on curtailing government run amok; with a particular eye on preventing the FCC from being able to regulate broadband rates (not-coincidentally just as ISPs begin heavily pursuing usage caps). But the bill uses a unique definition of "rate regulation" to, in reality, ban the FCC from doing, well, pretty much anything.

Given that in the last year-and-a-half the FCC has passed neutrality laws, finally stood up for municipal broadband, raised the definition of broadband to 25 Mbps (to emphasize competitive shortcomings), and is now pondering both new broadband privacy rules and opening the captive cable set top box market to competition, you can kind of see why the bill was a priority for both large ISPs and their Congressional allies. Stopping this new, uncharacteristically pro-consumer and pro-competition FCC has become a priority.

Bills like this one do a great job riling up those upset about numerous, other instances of actual government overreach -- especially folks that don't understand the broken telecom market or the nuances of net neutrality, or that the FCC under Tom Wheeler has actually been doing some non-idiotic things for arguably the first time in twenty years. But such bills are empty showmanship in that they require a President's signature to pass.

And according to a new statement of administration policy by the White House (pdf), that's simply not happening:
"H.R. 2666 is overly broad and extends far beyond codifying the FCC's forbearance from applying provisions of the Communications Act related to tariffs, rate approval, or other forms of utility regulation. Even as amended, H.R. 2666 would restrict the FCC's ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints. The bill also would hamstring the FCC's public interest authority to review transactions....If the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."
There remains only a few ways to defang the FCC and/or truly gut net neutrality.

ISPs could get Congress to pass a new law that enshrines net neutrality rules that are weaker than what the FCC has proposed, though Senators John Thune and Representative Fred Upton tried this and it went nowhere. ISPs could also still win the ongoing lawsuit against the FCC, which would gut some or all of the rules (a ruling is expected shortly). Or ISPs could work to elect a President who opposes net neutrality and will set about making sure the FCC returns to its more traditional role of being a toothless, gutless, shell of a regulator dedicated to protecting the telecom status quo.

The House, of course, knows their options are limited, and that bills like this -- and the constant parade of taxpayer-funded FCC "fact finding" hearings -- don't actually accomplish anything. They do, however, rile up the uninformed, and do a fine job reminding giant telecom companies that Congress is ready and willing to dance on command for continued telecom campaign contributions.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2016 @ 3:33pm

    "raised the definition of broadband to 25 Mbps" i wonder if this will change 5 years from now. gigabit speeds are being deployed in a handful of cities now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2016 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      In 5 or 10 years when the try to update the definition again, cable companies will cry about how the current 25Mbps connections are just fine and nobody needs more than that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lurker Keith, 14 Apr 2016 @ 7:43pm

        Re: Re:

        There is a hitch to arguing we don't need more speed. VR is no longer fiction. In 5 to 10 years, I expect VR Multiplayer to be a thing. THAT will probably require more bandwidth than we get now, which should get things moving, finally.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 4:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't see VR gaming making much of a difference in online Multiplayer. VR needs to render the image twice to create that 3D effect, but I believe that heavy lifting mostly happens on the client side.

          But you're definitely on the right train of thought that VR will require some extra bandwidth. Live streaming of events (sports, etc) could be streamed in full 360 with viewers at home using their VR headsets to view any angle they please.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 7:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The perspective is there. But it is a can of worms with broadcasting rights. They have barely found out how to use the internet for broadcasts and with the ad-values on TV versus internet and the ppv-market, I doubt they are that interested in VR-options.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 5:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Eh? Multiplayer games already communicate their worlds' data from one client to another for current multiplayer. If they didn't, you wouldn't be able to see the other players' interactions with the world. Multiplayer needs low-ping communication, not high bandwidth.
          All VR would add to a multiplayer game's communication would be an extra vector to show the direction the other player's head is pointing.

          HD video —heck, SD video— is far more bandwidth-heavy than multiplayer communications. Using voice comms might even use more bandwidth than the games themselves.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 Apr 2016 @ 6:45am

        Re: Re:

        No, they'll still be whining about how 25 Mbps is 'unreasonably high', and how no-one needs more than that because as they've shown time and time again, why upgrade the network when you can simply charge more for the same pathetic speed?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 15 Apr 2016 @ 8:22am

      Re:

      It will change in 1 year.

      Trump will change it to 1 Mbps down so his business buddies can feel all warm and fuzzy about themselves...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 2:44pm

        Re: Re:

        Trump's lost. When you're doing so badly even your own side appears to be conspiring to prevent you from giving the election to the democrats, you've lost badly.

        But he doesn't care enough to know that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2016 @ 3:48pm

    It is actions like these that I and other informed citizens see and realize that it is time to clean house in congress. I am all for replacing nearly all the incumbents with fresh faces just to break up the good ol' boy network.

    Between not doing anything just because Obama is for it without looking at if it will help the nation to total gridlock to shut down the nation's finances, I'm having a hard time seeing where I or my fellow citizens are being represented.

    It is exactly this impression that is driving people to vote for Sanders or Trump. The fact that the powerful and the elite are now playing dirty politics to stay in power isn't going to help a whole lot. This house of cards is very close to tumbling because the voters are being ignored. Continue at your own political peril.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2016 @ 5:40pm

      Re:

      "the elite are now playing dirty politics to stay in power "

      Now?
      They have always done this. Perhaps it is noticed more these days due to the large increase in communication. It wasn't that long ago that the flow of information was easily controlled thus leading to an easily fooled populace. The "Good 'ol Days" were not all that good - you just did not know about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      trollificus (profile), 15 Apr 2016 @ 12:36am

      Re:

      Amen. This is why I always oppose granting the government more powers, or greater regulatory scope: it just gives them more shit to sell off. (then when the FCC does good, it throws my whole model off!)

      Then again, this is also why, much as I hate so-called 'progressives' (not sorry, they hated me first), the Republican party presents a wholly unacceptable alternative.

      The parties, along with a gutless, cooperative press, allow the plutocratic class to filter "acceptable" candidates. In some countries, ones we routinely mock, the military acts as such a filter. I don't see our situation as much better.

      Therefore Trump. And, to a certain extent, Bernie. Because people who want to improve the country, people who just want to preserve what's good about the country, people who just don't want to get screwed over any more...all feel totally betrayed by the parties. And the parties, aided by the press, respond to these expressions of outrage and betrayal with "wedge issues" and "culture war".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 1:55am

        Re: Re:

        You said the wrong thing - the press isn't gutless. It knows exactly where its money comes from.

        It also isn't co-operative - it's actively in collusion with the politicos. It's looking like the major reform for Americans is hte V for Vendetta model.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 4:57am

        Re: Re:

        The plutocratic class is so busy writing their obituary they do not even notice themselves committing suicide.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2016 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        The media are very possible to manipulate by the politicians and the politicians are very good at distorting money from industry by making deals.

        Like a poet once said:
        "Laws like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made"

        The increased educatedness of the people about law-making is causing dissatisfaction with the authorities and thus the people in power. These issues seems to be what the republicans have tried to build on for the last 5? years and have only smelled the coffee for the last year.

        They have become very much defined as "not the democratic party" instead of defining themself as a coherent alternative.

        At the same time, Sanders is also defining himself as "not Obama", by running on a 70's social democratic european platform.

        If anything, the current situation shows how useful it is to be in opposition to the existing power.

        Cruz is known for obstructing the political process and completely undermining the republican ability to make consessions and calls it ideological purity. That is as "not democrat" as you get politically.
        But Trump is even more: A complete beginner in politics and an outsider to the republican partys center. He is a "not democrat" and "not dirty" since he comes from outside of politics, has his own money for campaigning and he is not acting like a politician. His policy platform is classic european far right, with the socialistic touches that will give.

        So to me it seems like the republican party is harvesting what they have sown: The electorate is voting in the not democrats.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2016 @ 4:54pm

    Writing itself out of existence

    Since our country has been busily writing laws that harm the public and the world at large, humanity needs a new example of what a free nation can be. Mars, asteroid colonies, you are up next.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2016 @ 6:30pm

    I wish that Threat would be replaced with Promise in these sorts of headlines.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Shel10 (profile), 14 Apr 2016 @ 8:03pm

    President Veto

    Finally!!!! After 7 years, I can actually agree that President Obama is taking a reasonable action on the "No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act". He should veto the bill. ISPs and the carriers have failed to make good on their promises. The US should be leading the world on providing inexpensive broadband telecommunication services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BiG-WoW, 14 Apr 2016 @ 10:07pm

    sick of delusion

    Embracing the FCC to REGULATE that which was not regulated is pure delusion.

    I think for myself.
    I NEVER needed FCC to regulate ANYTHING, but I consented to them regulating POWER AND FREQUENCY in the PUBLIC INTEREST.

    I have problems with all of you because ***YOU*** consented to them now coming from the Public RF Spectrum, and shoving it down into our wired networks basically. But I get it that the USA is a bananna republic now.

    Meanwhile they still don't manage power and frequency (you know AIRWAVES) in the public interest. Now *** YOU **** allowed them to interject authority here, where they had none to stand on before as well as a history of FAILURES, Conflicts and still common sense management of the spectrum in the public interest is absent. Their engineers run it in the CORPORATE INTEREST.

    I say again, if the FCC can't be regulated to regulating power and freq in the public interest then DE-ACTIVATE this agency in it's entirety--stop expanding the FCC to areas it didn't have authority. Unless your CAT 5 Cables are leaking some bad EMI/RFI --- the only business the fcc has is that of "ROAD AGENT RIPPING YOU OFF."

    If they said they wanted to regulate the radios in the LAPTOP for wireless I could not have had a problem as that falls into the public spectrum, just like pirate radio.

    But this isn't about that, this is a camels nose under the tent.
    By an agency with a current history of fail. And being controlled/Steered by a POTUS that frankly I would have up on TREASON charges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Monday (profile), 15 Apr 2016 @ 9:14am

    What the hell are you all on about!!!

    Twenty-two comments; half on VR, the rest on I don't know what, and one that says Obama is doing a good thing.

    So what the hell is it? Is this good or bad? The VETO, not VR Bandwidth or Congress has to go, because they just got voted back into power, so what is it? Is the VETO good or bad?

    I didn't wanna comment 'cuz I needed to learn about this VETO. You people taught me nothing.

    Oh yeah; can't forget the stupid smelly person comment.

    Jesus...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2016 @ 9:39am

      Re: What the hell are you all on about!!!

      In my opinion, a veto would be a very welcome thing. But right now, it's just rhetoric. We'll see if it actually happens.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 15 Apr 2016 @ 1:45pm

      Re: What the hell are you all on about!!!

      Is the VETO good or bad? ...You people taught me nothing.

      And if someone says "it's good" you will consider that a learning experience? Read about the bill and then you can decide for yourself if it's good or bad.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Apr 2016 @ 12:37pm

    Don't trust Obama.

    He's threatened vetoes and flaked before. I'll believe the veto when I see it.

    I'll be sad when the bill passes in the first place, and rejoice when he does an actual veto, but I've learned not to sell pelts until I've caught the beasts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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